Is Coffee Bad for the Baby During Pregnancy?

Reviewed on 3/22/2022
Is coffee bad for the baby during pregnancy
Despite the evidence of caffeine during pregnancy appears to be anecdotal, experts still recommend consuming no more than 200 mg each day.

Although conclusive evidence about the effects of caffeine during pregnancy on you and your baby is still lacking, it is better to cut down on caffeine during pregnancy.

The American College of Gynecology and Obstetrics recommends not consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine each day during pregnancy. This means you should not have more than two 6-ounce cups, one and a half 8-ounce cups, or one 12-ounce cup of coffee. Be sure to check the size of your cup and the amount of caffeine in the brand of the coffee to know how much caffeine you are getting.

How can pregnant women cut down their caffeine intake?

If you are pregnant and want to give up coffee drinking, do not stop it at once. Abruptly stopping coffee can cause you to develop coffee withdrawal effects such as anxiety and increased levels of stress.

Instead, follow the below strategy:

  • If you have been drinking coffee too much, limit coffee to one or two cups a day.
  • Start having a mixture of decaffeinated coffee and regular coffee.
  • As your body slowly adapts to the reduced caffeine intake, stop drinking caffeinated coffee.

Additionally, you should keep a watch on the amount of other caffeinated foods or beverages that you have during the day, which includes tea, chocolate, baked goods, and energy drinks. Some medications that keep you alert contain caffeine. Read the labels carefully for the caffeine content before you buy anything for yourself while you are pregnant.

How does caffeine affect you and your baby during pregnancy?

Caffeine has numerous effects on your body including:

During pregnancy, the body takes a lot more time to clear caffeine. This makes your body more sensitive to caffeine and experiences the effects more easily than in the nonpregnant state.

Your baby gets food and oxygen from the placenta, which is an organ that develops in your womb (uterus) during pregnancy. Caffeine can travel from the placenta to the baby.

There are anecdotal reports of caffeine causing miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight. Some studies say this is true, whereas some say it is not.

A study conducted at the University of Rochester in Rochester and published in the journal Neuropharmacology (2021) examined 9,000 brain scans from 9- and 10-year-old kids. This was part of the largest long-term study of brain development and child health.

Earlier studies have reported a link between excess coffee intake and its bad effects on pregnancy and the child. This Rochester study reported that exposure to any amount of coffee during pregnancy can cause behavioral problems such as problems with concentration and hyperactivity as the child grows. This may not be a problem with every child but more of trouble in kids who are vulnerable to developing behavioral issues. However, the study did not find any effect on the children's intelligence or thinking ability but suggested avoiding coffee drinking during pregnancy.

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References
Image Source: iStock Images

Li J, Zhao H, Song JM, Zhang J, Tang YL, Xin CM. A meta-analysis of risk of pregnancy loss and caffeine and coffee consumption during pregnancy. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015 Aug;130(2):116-22.

James JE. Maternal caffeine consumption and pregnancy outcomes: A narrative review with implications for advice to mothers and mothers-to-be. BMJ Evid Based Med. 2021 Jun;26(3):114-115.

Qian J, Chen Q, Ward SM, et al. Impacts of caffeine during pregnancy. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2020;31(3):218-227.

Gleason JL, Tekola-Ayele F, Sundaram R, et al. Association between maternal caffeine consumption and metabolism and neonatal anthropometry: A secondary analysis of the NICHD fetal growth studies–Singletons. JAMA network open. 2021 Mar 1;4(3):e213238-.

Brain changed by caffeine in utero, study finds. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/brain-changed-by-caffeine-in-utero-study-finds#

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